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Old 01-29-2009, 04:56 PM   #1
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min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

Gotta question for all the experts here: I've got a communications company coming to "install" fiber optic service to my house. I say "install" because they try to get away with anything & everything. I've seen their kind of work in the past, and it really upsets me (to put it nicely). Yesterday, they came to my house to run the fiber from the curb to the side of my house, and refused to cut through an old (dead) tree root. They buried the fiber only 2" below the surface in that spot, and said I should be careful digging there.

Isn't there a minimum depth these things have to be buried? I thought it was 24". For what it's worth, the fiber cable is armored, but I still don't like the idea of it being buried only 2". Hoping the NEC will give me some ammunition here.


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Old 01-29-2009, 05:51 PM   #2
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The NEC actually only requires 18in for direct burial, since fiber optic (i assume) would fall under the category of Network-Powered Broadband Communication System, you need to look at article 830 specifically 830.47.

If this is the service provider installing a line to your house, it is their line up to the tap inside your house. Utility companies, I'm assuming its not just power companies, are bound by the NEC like everyone else is when working on their own equipment. You may want to call them and report how it was installed,and they may come out and fix it, or report it to the city as they may have some requirements that installs have to meet. You could just go out there and hack it with a shovel every couple weeks and have them replace it over and over again until they do it right.


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Old 01-29-2009, 08:36 PM   #3
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Let me guess, a Verizon Contractor did the job? If you can dig it out without damaging, I would try to run in conduit, due to if you cut Fiber, you can kiss it goodbye, until you can get the Telco to come out and either replace or fix the line.
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:37 PM   #4
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They are, and right now, Verizon has to go around Florida, and elsewhere to fix the mistakes that their contractors did with the Fios installs. Including crap like this.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:21 PM   #5
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My guess is that they can bury it any depth they want. There is no risk to life, or electrical value in the optic fiber so they would have to replace it if damaged. In my neighborhood phone lines are typically buried superficially and there is a much greater chance of being jolted there with copper lines. And yes, Verizon does the work here too (or their installation contractors)
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Old 01-30-2009, 12:32 AM   #6
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Those utility grade fiber cables are stronger than you think.

At my old place of employment someone hit the pole and the pole was hanging by the fiber optic cable, it was supporting the entire weight of the pole. It did just fine. They didn't even need to replace it, that fiber is still in service.
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:33 AM   #7
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Re: min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

just cut a fiber cable in Fairfax va...it was about 5 inches deep...Verizon FIOS came out on Easter Sunday and lay a quick patch cable on the grasses surface, to be followed within a month by a dig crew who simply digs, but connects nothing. Verizon then coordinates a service guy to bring new cable to go in the trench that the other crew had dug. I called Miss Utilities in VA and they said that 18-24 inches was the depth you could expect fiber to be...um...but the Verizon repair guy said..."ha...we never do that deep...and we don't put it in conduit..." Anyway, no special charges have surfaced since the event as I'm ready to raise hell and throw bricks if they charge me for cutting the line (oh, I was planting a small plant at about 5 inches depth when I saw the distinct flat black fiber cable pop up on my shovel...) Hope this helps.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:15 AM   #8
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Re: min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

The fiber drop to the house I saw being installed was just barely under the surface. The guy stuck a shovel in the ground, pushed forward and dropped the cable into the slit it made. He didn't even dig any dirt out. The cable was left coiled at both ends for the install crew.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:32 AM   #9
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Re: min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

Can you tell us a bit about what this is for? Internet gigabit service perhaps? If yes, will the fiber cable go right to your router? (All new to me!)

Anyway, if you want it done right, do it yourself!

I would dig that out, cut the tree root, and bury it deeper. I've seen a LOT of lines cut by accident. Lines are safer (from being cut) when deeper - like 18 inches.

And so far as I know, it is not fun to splice a cut fiber optic cable. Video...
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:46 AM   #10
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Re: min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

Fios was installed to two houses on our place about 3 weeks ago. The cables come in pre made lengths, it requires a specialist to cut and reterminate, so they try to avoid that. The cables are buried less than 6 inches deep. One house had it's cable buried within two weeks, the other house is still awaiting burial. In the yard, they opened a slot in the ground with a flat shovel, dropped the line in and tamped it closed. Once outside the yard they used a vibrating plow. They were willing to take a circuitous route to avoid trees and other items. Later another tech came, connected the buried line, and took up the surface cable. In all there were 4 visits from Verizon and its contractors. After the initial install, we had a visit from the the cable locater, who marked only the Comcast cable. I guess that they install so shallow that they don't need to know where other under ground services are.
We will be interested to see when the cable to the other house gets buried.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:19 AM   #11
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Re: min depth for fiber optic cable underground?

there is no minimum depth, as long as its not visable and poking out of the ground,

i used to install cable tv/RG6, fiber, and phone to homes,

i used a machine called a "ditch witch" that would dig a groove in the grass probably only 2 inches down max, lay the cable in the groove and literally kick dirt and grass over the groove with my boots.....done

if its damaged anywhere between the street and inside your house its their responsibility to fix it anyway so i wouldn't worry about it,

EDIT...just realized this thread is 8 years old....Lol



Last edited by anyacolo; 04-21-2017 at 10:23 AM.
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